With October upon us, many of us will spend the weekends enjoying all the fall things: football, apple picking, bonfires, and finding the perfect jack-o-lantern to-be at the pumpkin patch. But as we transition to a new season where temperatures and leaves may be dropping, pests are still out and about.
For this reason, if you’re planning to visit the pumpkin patch ahead of Halloween, you will want to take some precautions to ensure you’re not bringing creepy crawlies home from the patch. Start with taking measures to protect yourself and your family from ticks.
Ticks remain active in the fall and can transmit Lyme Disease, Rocky Mountain Spotted Fever, and Anaplasmosis, among other bacteria, viruses, and parasites. Ticks will hide under leaf litter, waiting for the perfect opportunity to latch on to a host passing by. Be sure to wear long sleeves and pants to the patch, and check yourself and your family for ticks once you get home.
Aside from ticks, a few other insects enjoy a little “pumpkin spice.” Squash bugs are the most common pumpkin predators. Similar to stink bugs, squash bugs are grayer in color and have a round body shape.
Squash bugs do not bite or sting but will give off an offensive odor if you crush them. In addition to squash bugs, pumpkins can also attract aphids, spider mites, and whiteflies.
Once you’re at the patch, follow these tips to avoid bringing home pests.
Inspect the vine.
If you’ve opted to take the hayride into the field to pick the pumpkin yourself, start by inspecting the vine and leaves. Squash bugs will feed on the leaves, resulting in wilting leaves and yellow spots.
Look for wounds to the pumpkin’s skin.
Much like our skin, the pumpkin’s outer flesh acts as a protective barrier. Small punctures and scabs indicate damage to the pumpkin’s protective layer, and that damage could serve as an entry point for pests to enter.
Pay attention to color.
We all want a pumpkin that will look great on the porch throughout October. But as pumpkins decompose, they attract flies, so paying close attention to freshness is especially important. While muted and/or neutral colors may trend on Instagram and Pinterest, pale-toned pumpkins simply won’t keep. Fresh pumpkins should be deep orange with a stem that is bright green.
Once you’ve brought your perfect pumpkin home, prevent browning and decay (which attracts gnats and flies) by applying lemon juice to it before carving. If you’re adding a candle to your carved pumpkin, opt for citronella. Light can attract bugs, but the citronella scent can deter them. Happy pumpkin hunting!
Are you getting spooked by pests in your own backyard? Contact your local Mosquito Squad today to inquire about specialty fall treatment services.